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Haggard's Law

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The louder and more frequent one's objections to homosexuality are, the more likely one is to be a homosexual.

Haggard's Law is an adage named after Pastor Ted Haggard — despite him not being gay in any way, shape, or form. It is used as a purely sarcastic musing that people who strongly object to homosexuality might be likely to engage in homosexual activities and is based on the numerous public scandals[1][2][3][4] of famous figures who oppose homosexuality and homosexual behavior.

Instances of Haggard's Law are gleefully spread by the media for an audience that revels in such scandalous behavior.[note 1]


Racists never imagine what it's like to be like the person they hate, homophobes imagine it in graphic detail for hour upon hour.
—Bob Schooley[5][note 2]

Haggard's Law made its first published appearance in an article[6] written by Dennis DiClaudio of Comedy Central fame and is named after American evangelical preacher Ted Haggard. It was created after and is a reference to a scandal[2] involving prostitute and masseur Mike Jones who alleged that Haggard had paid Jones to engage in sex with him over a three-year period and had also purchased and used crystal methamphetamine.[7] Although Haggard denied using methamphetamine or having sex with Mr. Jones, the scandal has caused many evangelicals to view Haggard as extremely hypocritical about his spoken views,[8] as he was known to publicly preach against homosexuality.[9]

Original quote by author Dennis DiClaudio:[6]

Haggard's Law — The likelihood of a person harboring secret desires to engage in sexual and/or romantic activities with members of the same sex is directly proportional to the frequency and volume of said person's vocalized objections to homosexuality.

The "law" is more generally used to reference hypocrisy in public figures who lead the moral opposition of homosexuality and then are discovered to have partaken in homosexuality or homosexual behavior.

Is Haggard's law true?[edit]

So far, there is no reliable scientific evidence supporting Haggard's law which, therefore, should be taken only as an ironic term describing some hypocritical homophobes. In fact, testing scientifically if there is some truth in Haggard's law is quite hard(!) because of the following reasons:

  • There is no easy way to know with certainty the sexual orientation of a person. Statistical studies which rely on the sexual orientations reported by the subjects are hardly useful since, of course, no homophobe would reveal their homosexuality. Methods measuring sexual arousal via biometrics are also problematic because they measure only a physical response to a stimulus, not sexual orientation, and it is possible that similar physical responses are due to completely different psychological reasons. Probably, the only sure way to know the sexual orientation of a person would be spying on them to see if they actively look for and engage in heterosexual or homosexual activities, but of course, that poses both ethical and practical problems.
  • The scandals behind the history of Haggard's law, although numerous, are statistically irrelevant with respect to the whole number of homophobes, who have never been caught in homosexual activities. Indeed, believing in Haggard's law because of such scandals is an instance of the Toupée fallacy.

Penile plethysmography[edit]

In a 1996 study,[10] 64 men were assessed by the "homophobia index" and split into two groups: "homophobic" and "non-homophobic." Then, their arousal to homosexual and heterosexual images was measured via penile plethysmography, a rubber gauge used to measure erectile responses. In the "non-homophobic" group, 66% showed no arousal yet in the "homophobic" group only 20% managed to restrain themselves from getting aroused — and significantly underestimated their own arousal.

However, what was measured as arousal may have been the result of the uncomfortable feelings the homophobic group was feeling on seeing homosexual imagery. As pointed out by the authors of the study: "It is possible that viewing homosexual stimuli causes negative emotions such as anxiety in homophobic men but not in nonhomophobic men. Because anxiety has been shown to enhance arousal and erection, this theory would predict increases in erection in homophobic men. Furthermore, it would indicate that a response to homosexual stimuli is a function of the threat condition rather than sexual arousal per se." Hence, this confounding factor may explain the results more consistently.

Implicit measures[edit]

Studies that rely on implicit measures both to gauge a subject's same-sex attractions as well as their level of homophobia do give credence to the suspicion that there is something to Haggard's law.[11]


By a 2011 survey, 33% of the USA population believes that "homosexuality is a way of life that should not be accepted by society".[12] On the other hand, another 2011 report estimates that about 8.2% of Americans have engaged in same-sex sexual behavior.[13]

On the basis of said polls, no more than 24.8% (8.2 / 33) of that 33% of American homophobes — i.e. one in four active gay bashers — could be a closeted homosexual. This means that a literal interpretation of Haggard's Law (e.g. 'homophobe perfectly implies homosexual') fails in at least 75.2% of cases.

However, this conclusion is flawed, as the 8.2% figure only considers those who have admitted to same-sex sexual activity.

Ethical calculus[edit]

It's entirely possible for someone to be raised to believe that homosexuality is evil, yet still turn out to be homosexual. There are many ways for the human mind to rationalize this away, such as a belief that everyone else is a "sinner" but you are unique, or the common fundamentalist belief that you aren't homosexual unless you "act on it", or some other cognitive dissonance. But one way to justify "sinning" is to remove more "sin" than you cause, sort of like how every third house firefighters save they get to light one up for funsies. So, if a politician or preacher manages to convince other people to avoid or give up a "homosexual lifestyle", then surely they have made the world "less sinful" and are thus still "good", right?


Haggard's Law could sometimes be a bit of a misnomer, as the newly outed may not only be attracted to their own sex, but "swing both ways." Haggard himself insists that he can still "exclusively have sex with my wife and be permanently satisfied."[14]

Some instances of Haggard's Law[edit]

Question: I'm a 200 percent straight guy, married with children. About six months ago, I went to a masseur who finished things with a terrific blowjob. If you wonder why I didn't stop him, the truth is, I couldn't, because he was massaging my asshole with his thumb while blowing me. […]
Answer: Mr. 200 Percent Straight couldn't stop the big, bad masseur from giving him a blow job because the masseur had his thumb up Mr. 200 Percent Straight's butt. What, is there a system override switch in straight men's butts? Can't… move… thumb… in… ass… send… help! Come on. I've had my thumb in a few butts, provoking reactions ranging from delight to disgust, but it has never, ever, not once, paralyzed a sex partner or struck him dumb. […]
—Answered by Dan Savage[15]
  • John Atherton,Wikipedia possibly the oldest verified example of Haggard's Law in action, was an Irish Anglican bishop who in 1634 orchestrated the passage of the Buggery Act making gay sex a crime punishable by death. Six years later Atherton was accused of "buggering" his steward and became the first person to be executed for having gay sex under the law he had pushed for.[16]
  • Alan Chambers was responsible for founding Exodus International, the largest conversion therapy ministry in the world. However, after seeing the devastating effects of California Proposition 8, he shut Exodus down and apologized. Chambers would later come out of the closet and describe himself as "a gay man married to a straight woman".[17]
  • Roy Cohn, the corrupt lawyer and assistant of McCarthyism who created the homophobic Lavender Scare,Wikipedia was pretty clearly into men himself. His relationship with consultant G. David SchineWikipedia came to light during the televised hearings of 1954, and he was described as having office boys who were rumoured to be his lovers.[18] Roger Stone, former associate of Cohn, has been quoted as saying: "Roy was not gay. He was a man who liked having sex with men... He was interested in power and access."[19]
  • Larry Craig, a former Republican Senator from Council, Idaho, is best known for his Christian fundamentalist bent, which includes an opposition to LGBT rights, and for pleading guilty to "lewd conduct" in an airport restroom after trying to solicit a male police officer for sex.[20] One month before his arrest he had been investigated by the Idaho Statesman for allegedly having sex with men in public restrooms going as far back as 1967.[21] He insists he is not gay.[22]
  • YouTuber Steven Crowder has been accused of sexual harassment and indecent exposure by multiple male employees,[23] conduct he has at least partially admitted to.[24] He is also an opponent of same-sex marriage[25] and has described the gay community as "predatory".[26]
  • McKrae Game, one of the most prominent homophobes in the USA and supporter of conversion therapy, came out as gay in 2019.[27][28][17]
  • Marc Goodwin, sent to prison for murdering a gay man in a homophobic attack, later became one of the first two males to be married in a British prison.[29]
  • Ted Haggard, duh.
  • J. Edgar Hoover, known to have used his directorship of the FBI to harass and spy on gay people, was also suspected to have had an affair with his deputy Clyde Tolson[30] and has been claimed to have been a closet drag queen and a possible lover of the aforementioned Roy Cohn.[31]
  • Troy King resigned as Attorney General of Alabama after being caught in bed with another man by his wife. King is virulently anti-gay and has called homosexuality "the downfall of society".[32]
  • David Matheson was a Mormon known for his decades-long work in the field of conversion therapy and encouraging gay people to remain celibate so as to avoid "sinning".[33] Matheson is now mostly remembered for validating Haggard's Law after writing a Facebook post in which he admitted to divorcing his wife and looking for a relationship with another man. This admission came following the gay rights group Truth Wins OutWikipedia leaking private Facebook conversations with conversion therapist Rich Wyle in which he accused Matheson of being gay.[34] Matheson has since embraced his true nature and begun dating men.[35]
  • Jonathan Merritt, son of James Merritt, former leader of the Southern Baptist Convention.[36][37]
  • Javier Suárez Pascagaza is the President of the Colombian Husband and Wife Foundation and was involved in an unsuccessful legal challenge to same-sex marriage.[38] He was also expelled from his Jesuit school for being gay, possibly explaining his self-hatred.[39]
  • Jesse Lee Peterson, a minister who once described homosexuals as "evil", has been accused of having gay sex liaisons with at least two men and of propositioning others.[40]
  • Possibly Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, according to former church member Lauren Drain.[41]
  • George Rekers is a Southern Baptist minister and typical religious right activist who has written numerous books about the evils of homosexuality. Rekers has long been affiliated with James Dobson and the Family Research Council, as well as appearing as an "expert" witness in several court cases espousing how homosexuals aren't fit to raise children and so should be prohibited from adoption.[42][43] He also testified on behalf of the Boy Scouts of America in support of their gay ban. When a judge was suspicious of Rekers' testimony, describing it as "extremely suspect" and said that Rekers "was there primarily to promote his own personal ideology", Rekers went on a tantrum describing the trial as "utterly corrupt".[42] At UCLA in the early 1970s, Rekers ran "The Sissy Boy Experiment", a reparative therapy program. The program came under intense media scrutiny following the suicide of Kirk Murphy, whose parents enrolled him in the program when he was five years old. Murphy suffered physical abuse as part of the plan to cure him of his feminine behavior. Murphy's family blames the program for his depression and eventual suicide.[44][45] In May of 2010, he was spotted returning to Miami International Airport with a young Hispanic gentleman hired "to carry his bags". Like all baggage assistants, the young man had been hired from a website entitled "".[46] Much hilarity ensued, of course, with Rekers even admitting he had hired the boy from the escort website — while still insisting he had only hired him for "baggage handling".[note 3]
  • Aaron Schock,Wikipedia Republican former representative for the Illinois 18th congressional district, who is mostly (in)famous for misusing election funds and consistent opposition to LGBTQI rights in general,[47] finally admits it after a year or more of "working through a list of people who I felt should finally hear the news directly from me before I made a public statement."[48]
  • Homophobic legislator Ed Schrock dropped out of the Virginia legislative race after audio recordings came to light of Schrock arranging liaisons with other men.[49]
  • Bridget Ziegler, a co-founder of Moms for Liberty, was found out to be having threesomes with her husband and another woman in a police investigation where her husband was accused of sexual assault of that same woman. Even Ron DeSantis called for her to resign following the scandal.[50] Bridget Ziegler had previously helped to draft DeSantis' "Don't Say Gay" law, and pushed for removal of books in school libraries that contained LGBT people or characters.[51]
  • Jozsef Szajer, a MEP of Hungary and a founder of Viktor Orban's Fidesz party (which is known to be hostile to LGBT rights), was caught fleeing a gay orgy in Belgium by climbing down a drainpipe, all while carrying narcotics. Szajer was fined for violating COVID-19 lockdown regulations and resigned his position.[52]

In fiction[edit]

  • The 1999 film American BeautyWikipedia features a queer male character who acts violently toward the man he finds attractive after he kisses him.
  • Parodied and inverted in The Fourth Bear,Wikipedia where a prominent politician known for his highly-publicised gay relationships is hiding the deep dark secret that he's actually straight.
  • A mission in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has Tommy Vercetti take damning photo evidence of a politician who ostensibly supported puritanical measures meant to disrupt the porn industry, but is secretly a crossdresser soliciting sex with prostitutes.[note 4]
  • The graphic novel version of V for VendettaWikipedia features two characters, far-right politician Adam Susan and homophobic broadcaster Lewis Prothero, who are implied to be closeted homosexuals.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. In How We Lie to Ourselves, author and philosopher Alain de BottonWikipedia explains on YouTube:

    We grow censorious and deeply disapproving of certain kinds of behavior and people.

    What we don't admit is that we're so full of condemnation only because we need to ward off awareness that a part of us, in fact, really likes the condemned element.

    We attack certain sexual tastes as 'utterly deviant!' and 'beyond the pale!' — precisely because we half-know that we share them somewhere inside ourselves.

    So we're delighted when particular people are arrested or shamed in the press — 'what they did was utterly awful!', we insist — our outrage shielding us from any risk of spotting the connection between them and us.

  2. Though, results may vary depending on context.
  3. To "handle" his "junk", perhaps?
  4. Okay, cross-dressing isn't the same thing as being gay, but fundies tend to disapprove of both, and both of them are really quite harmless, all things considered. Either way, the politician's a hypocrite for doing things he publicly condemns.


  1. Florida State Representative Accused of Offering to Perform Oral Sex Claims Innocence, archived from the original at Fox News, July 27, 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Haggard admits 'sexual immorality, apologizes, archived from the original at MSNBC, November 5, 2006.
  3. US anti-gay rights senator Roy Ashburn comes out, BBC News, March 8, 2010.
  4. Former GOP Chief Pleads Guilty To Deviant Conduct, archived from the original at WLKY, June 12, 2008.
  6. 6.0 6.1 ""Haggard's Law," Please Add It to Your Lexicon", Indecision Forever
  7. Haggard Admits Buying Meth From Gay Escort, CBS News, November 2, 2006
  8. William Crawley, The Rise and Fall of Ted Haggard, BBC News, November 5, 2006
  9. Pastor will shut down controversial kids camp, Seattle Times
  10. Adams; Wright; Lohr (1996). "Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal?". Journal of Abnormal Psychology 105 (3): 440-5. 
  11. Psychology Today: Are Homophobic People Really Gay and Not Accepting It?
  12. [1] Do you think homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted by society? (Worldwide 2011)
  13. [2] "How many people are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender?". Williams Institute, University of California School of Law.
  14. Ted Haggard Says He's Bisexual, CBS
  15. Savage Love: Golden Oldie (Aug 4, 2005) The Stranger.
  16. The Third Pink Book: A Global View of Lesbian and Gay Liberation and Oppression
  17. 17.0 17.1 Conversion therapy center founder says he’s gay, rejects ‘cycle of self-shame’ in Anchorage Daily News on 4 September 2019.
  18. My Bizarre Dinner Party with Donald Trump, Roy Cohn and Estee Lauder: I went to interview Cohn for Playboy. But the night got especially weird when I got seated next to Trump. by Peter Manso (May 27, 2016) Politico.
  19. Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker: "The Dirty Trickster"
  20. Idaho Senator Says He Regrets Guilty Plea in Restroom Incident, The New York Times
  21. Dan Popkey, Men's room arrest reopens questions about Sen. Larry Craig. Idaho Statesman, 21 October 2015.
  22. Craig: I'm Not Gay, Did Nothing Wrong, ABC News
  23. ‘Groomer-ish’: Former Employees Describe Steven Crowder’s Sexual Harassment, Advocate, 21 July 2023
  24. (May 2, 2023). "Steven Crowder responds to allegations he exposed genitals to staffers with skit about exposing genitals to staffer". Media Matters for America.
  25. GAY MARRIAGE!! (Featuring Gay Leprechaun), YouTube
  26. Steven Crowder: Gay men are “definitely more predatory in nature as far as recruiting,", X
  27. Conversion therapy organization founder comes out as gay: 'Please forgive me' USA Today
  28. Founder of one of nation's largest conversion therapy ministries comes out as gay in the Daily Mail on 3 September 2019.
  29. Convicted murderers become the first gay couple to marry in prison. The Guardian, 28 March 2015.
  30. Love and death: The legacy of Congressional Cemetery’s 'Gay Corner' by Andrew L. Yarrow (August 16, 2021) The Washington Post.
  31. Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover by Anthony Summers (1993) Plume. ISBN 0399138005.
  32. Alabama A.G. Troy King Preparing to Resign Over Gay Sex Scandal?
  33. Man who worked as top 'conversion therapist' comes out as gay The Guardian. 25 January 2019
  34. ‘Intellectual Godfather Of Ex-Gay Therapy’ David Matheson Comes Out Of The Closet 28 March 2019
  35. Prominent US ‘gay conversion therapist’ divorces wife and comes out as gay The Week. 25 January 2019
  36. Prominent Antigay Evangelical Blogger Outed as Gay, The Advocate
  37. Jonathan Merritt: Come Out
  38. Colombia high court holds same-sex marriage hearing
  39. Leading opponent of same-sex marriage in Colombia outed as a gay man
  40. Allegations of Manosphere Pastor’s Gay Past Roil Macho Men, The Daily Beast, 13 July 2022
  41. Westboro Baptist Church Founder Fred Phelps May Be Gay, Suggests Former Member Lauren Drain, HuffPo
  42. 42.0 42.1 Bob Egelko, Arkansas judge OKs foster care / Gay parents pose no obstacle to kids' growth, court finds., 1 January 2005.
  43. Robyn E. Blumner, Making a loving home for two brothers. Tampa Bay Times, 29 November 2008.
  44. Therapy to change 'feminine' boy created a troubled man, family says. Anderson Cooper's report on the Sissy Boy Experiment.
  45. Jim Burroway, What Are Little Boys Made Of? Box Turtle Bulletin's analysis of the experiment.
  46. Christian right leader George Rekers takes a vacation with "rent boy" Miami New Times, 6 May 2010.
  47. Jonathan Capehart, No Schock in gay gossip. The Washington Post, 7 January 2014.
  48. Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas, Former US politician Aaron Schock comes out as gay in Instagram post., 6 March 2020.
  49. Va. Legislator Ends Bid for 3rd Term
  51. Kiera Butler (December 7, 2023). "In the Wake of a Sex Scandal, a Moms for Liberty Co-Founder’s Career Is Crumbling". Mother Jones.
  52. Jozsef Szajer: Hungary MEP quits after allegedly fleeing gay orgy BBC. December 2, 2020